A reward

I have this fridge that I have covered with words. When in my kitchen, I listen while I work. I listen to books and podcasts primarily. And when I listen I write down key things that I want to remember. And so my fridge became full of words, because naturally I wrote all these things on my fridge. At some point in the last few months our wonderful neighbors got a new fridge and asked us if we would like their old excellent condition one. Yes, of course we did. So, new fridge in the kitchen and old trusty moved to the porch because yes, we do need 3 refrigerators. Which means I didn’t lose all the insight I’ve written on trusty over the years. On the new behemoth I’ve put magnet paper on it and write on that…so yay for insight to come.  But in the meantime, I want to talk about one of the insights from Trusty.

THE PUNISHMENT FOR A BAD HABIT IS A BAD HABIT (I would like to credit this to Gretchen Rubin, but I forgot to credit it on Trusty so I’m not totally certain that it comes from her…but it does sound like her.) AND the reverse is also true. THE REWARD FOR A GOOD HABIT IS A GOOD HABIT.

There are so many ways to apply this to my life and I do. I say it to myself when I am embarking on a new habit. I remind myself of it when I wallow in a bad habit and I rejoice in it when I participate in a good habit.

My neighbor and I were discussing the current sense of entitlement that seems to have taken over so many people you meet. He is an older fellow and since I am an old soul (although not actually young…I am in the last of the gen Xers) we get along nicely. Anyhow, He began by talking about the younger generations and how it is so natural for them to feel entitled and that’s what’s hurting our modern day and age. And while I agree, it does currently seem like this mentality is natural for the up and coming generations I feel like it is more a current people problem. I get so tired of hearing about all the wonderful things I “deserve”.  I should be getting my fair share of all the goodness…my reward for existing.  Truly that deserve mentality disgusts me. I hate when I adopt it because it makes like seem so unfair. As far as I believe reality to be life isn’t supposed to be fair. Life is what we make it. And much of that is what we do with our minds, not our circumstances. And good habits help our minds.

For example some of my children have a bad habit of calling each other annoying. Breaking a bad habit is soooo hard and I would love to help them nip this in the bud. And so, we are creating a good habit of telling your sibling what a good brother or sister they are several times to combat when the bad habit strikes. Because the goal is to retrain their minds and thoughts to recognize the good of their sibling as opposed to constantly enforcing when things aren’t going great. Or to think of it like this…

By acknowledging what a good brother or sister I have, I am rewarding myself with a positive relationship with them when I get older. Also, there is the reward that they recognize that I think they are good and they strive to live up to those positive thoughts. It also encourages me to live up to being a good brother or sister as well. In addition to these life-long rewards, I also am a peacemaker in my home which makes my mom happy.             -REWARDS ABOUND

Habits in our lives are like ripples in the pond of life. I would really love to see how all the positive ripples play out. I can encourage my children to get rewarded by rewarding myself with good habits. Writing on this blog is a good habit for me. It helps to focus my mind. It gives me a creative space. I get to get my thoughts out and really recognize  what is happening in my life. And so once again I am going to attempt to renew this good habit in my life.  I recently acquired an old fitbit. I have not begun to log my food intake, but I am watching my sleep and my water intake and my steps in a while new way. Talk about needing some new good habits… And so, I am grateful for this fitbit tool in order to create better habits in my life. And to make my blog more of a reality, I am also going to use my calendar tool.  (HINT: Use tools to help you create good habits.) I am setting actual blog time everyday.  My goal is to have three new posts a week.

Tomorrow I turn 38. I am looking forward to rewarding myself this year with rewards I actually deserve. As I evaluate tonight, I will be thinking of how my life’s pond ripples and what I can do to reward not only myself, but others with my good habits. I am so glad I am not too old to start afresh on things I want to try and be. I truly believe the only too old for a good habit is dead. So, no matter where you are at today consider your ripples. What reward do you need in your life? Have a glass of water, at least, and enjoy the reward of good hydration.

Until next time – Be blessed.

Jessica

 

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The HARD truth

Two nights ago my kids were watching Veggie Tales, while I made dinner. They were watching one based on the Bible story of Joseph. As I listened in (because come on, who doesn’t love old school VT?), I heard this question get asked of Lil’ Joe…If God is good then how come He is allowing all this bad stuff to happen to you? (Basic story of Joseph…loved most by his father, hated by his brothers because of it. Brothers captured and sold him into slavery. Ended up working in Egypt and prospering well as a slave, until the master’s wife tried to get him to be intimate with her. He ran and in her embarrassment over the rejection she accused him of trying to attack her. He was put in prison. In prison he had favor and got chummy with some of the other prisoners by interpreting their dreams. More to the story, but this is where the question took place.)

Earlier that morning I had been reading about the HARD eucharisteo. About being thankful not in spite of the suffering, but in it and for it. About what is God’s grace truly. Is He really a good God? Does a good God send us bad things? Is it true what Ephesians 1:11 says? ( Moreover, because of what Christ has done, we have become gifts to God that he delights in, for as part of God’s sovereign plan we were chosen from the beginning to be his, and all things happen just as he decided long ago ) Do ALL things happen just as He decided? What does this mean? Not only that, but His purpose?  Reading in verse 12 – God’s purpose in this was that we should praise God and give glory to him for doing these mighty things for us, who were the first to trust in Christ. When reading this chapter of the Bible it sounds all wonderful. It points to the easily seen good things, but what if you view this passage in light of the hard eucharisteo? What if you look at the “bad” things? What if you look to all the pain in our world…in just your life alone? Was God’s purpose really that we should praise Him and give Him glory…IN EVERYTHING? How can we do that? How can we look at all the hard stuff and say God is good? How can we feel all the pain and say Glory in highest? Perhaps He is just a God who occasionally steps in and throws some benevolence our way. Just enough to keep His street cred. Perhaps He gives more grace to those who are more good? And who determines what makes someone more good?

Or perhaps none of us are good and ONLY He is. Is He really the good, good Father? Does He really only do GOOD? How can we know? How can we trust? This is where the rubber meets the road. My understanding is that it is all about perspective and I have almost none. I am bereft of perspective because I get so easily entangled in the minutia of my day…in the dishes and the laundry and the poopy bottoms. I miss seeing the whole picture because I refuse to look; to really look at it. And when I question Him (for one must question to find the answer one is so desperate for), what does He say? That is the key. What does He say? He says LOOK THROUGH MY EYES. Well, God, that’s easier said than done. You speak and light appears. MY WORD is a LAMP unto your feet and a LIGHT unto your path. There in that verse you learn so easily as a child lies the secret. He gave us a way to see from His perspective. We have to look through the eyes of His word. We have to see using the LIGHT He has offered. And when we look at everything through the fullness of WHO HE IS then Ann suggests that we can see clearly because He is doing a transfiguration. What? He is changing us. He is changing it all. He is working ALL things together for His purpose. He is a GOOD God.

And who are we to deserve His grace? Who are we to see good in our lives? What have we done to merit anything, ANYTHING that is good? It is not we who are good. It is not because of us that anything good comes about. It is because of Him that all things are working together for good.  And it is through His Word that we can see it. Through His word that we can see the fullness of a GOOD GOD.

Why is this so hard? Why do easily thank Him for the things we see as good and just lay aside that which we perceive as bad? If everything is filled with His purpose then everything is good? Is that the truth? Is the pain and loss you have experienced good? Can I count the suffering that I have felt and say thank-you? Am I able? Only through perspective. Only through transformation. Will I choose to see through the light He has given me and give thanks back? Everytime I read this chapter the hard questions come. Is this really something I believe? Am I really able to say thank you in the hard, the difficult, the ugly?  These questions come at me hard and fast. And they all lead me to the one place; the one question, the question those other prisoners asked Little Joe. If God is good, then why is He allowing all this bad stuff to happen to you? And oh, that I could answer what he answered…I do not know why all these things have happened to me, but I know God. He is a good God and He is working it all for His purpose. And His purpose for me is good.

To know God. That is when you are able to give the HARD EUCHARISTEO. You only know Him, really know Him when you spend time in His word, gaining His perspective. Did Corrie Ten Boom see it? Not at first, but her sister Betsy…she saw it. She was able to thank God for the fleas because it gave them the freedom to share Him. Her perspective was not on the prison camps and lack of food and rough treatment. Her perspective was on a God who was good because He was transforming all things to bring about His purpose.

I sigh as I write these words. These truths that are so much deeper than I want to go some days weigh heavily on me. Come and see me He says. Come and see that I AM GOOD. Will I go; will I give the hard eucharisteo and see things through His eyes? All I can answer is that I want to…day by day, minute by minute I want to put my foot on the path His lamp lights for me. For today anyway, for today, I choose to say that God is good. He is good. He is good. HE IS GOOD.

 

J

 

 

Thanksgiving always precedes the miracle

Once again, like I try to do every November I am reading One Thousand gifts by Ann Voscamp. There is something about this book that gets right to the heart of me. It brings me back from all the stuff and demands I pay attention to the thing that truly matters…Eucharisteo.

Where is my head? Not directing my feet as I stumble around in the dark. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” If my head stays in the Word it becomes a part of my heart. My heart that pumps the very blood of life. The thing that circulates and causes my feet to move and find sure footing. With His word I can see the path before me. And still I stumble. I grumble. I find some little thing to get stuck in the mud on. I forget that the light is before me. I forget that in thankfulness are the stepping stones for dry and sure footing. In thankfulness am I able to truly see.

Of course, one book at a time is not my style. And in two other books I’ve been reading I find that I’m being spoken to about meditation, meditation of the Word. It’s all about where my thoughts are. What am I actually dwelling on? What feast is on my table that I am savoring? Am I drinking of the life-giving water? Not just a nibble. Not just a sip. Meditation is when I am coming to the place where am am being immersed in just one thing. Just one thing… Just ONE thing.

Why is this so important? Why do I have to sit in this one place? Read this one word. Why does it take all this energy to really get it? Because, without thanksgiving everything else falls apart. Without my sole contemplation being a place of seeing the fullness of what I have been given, I have no solid ground.

Because when you spend time with just the one thing you begin to see differently. Anne writes of the Greek work for Thanksgiving – Eucharisteo. A word that falls funny from my mouth the first few times I say it. A word that is in another language than the one I speak. Why does this word in this language matter so much? This, the point of meditation. One word, one word is so much more than one. Eucharisteo is not limited. It has so much meaning. Charis – Grace (Do you see it there?) Eucharisteo – Thanksgiving  (Because of grace we can be so thankful) And deep within both grace and thanksgiving lives CHARA -Joy. When in thanksgiving we find joy.

Ah, and there is the light. My path before is clearly seen. No longer to stumble around blindly. The fetters of grumbling and complaining are left by the wayside. Jesus said ” Come to me all you who are weary (from rituals and religion) and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle (this is the unforced rhythm of grace) and you will live freely and lightly (with joy)[my paraphrase]. Jesus set the example of thanksgiving. He lived it. He didn’t just talk about it. He didn’t just offer it when everything was going well. He gave thanks in the moments of pain and found the joy. The JOY. For what do I lack in this moment that cannot be found in grace, thanksgiving and joy?

Eucharisteo is my feast. It is for the moments I find myself alone and in the great sharing of time I am surrounded. In this place I can dwell and be satisfied. In this place, I can find rest. All the rituals of the season. All the lists of the daily grind. These are not the things that satisfy. Being stuck because of to-dos does not create a miracle. The miracle of blessing comes when I am stuck on Thanksgiving. For in thanksgiving I am freed to bless others. In thanksgiving, I am free to receive the blessing. This is the secret hidden in plain sight.

Eucharisteo.

J

November 2

Nothing like day 2 to put a pin in my balloon of optimism. It’s not like I can’t find things to be thankful for. Today actually started out “great” at 4:10 AM. I am a morning person, but if I get up that early, I need to have a little down time in the afternoon. With an 11 month old who has decided it is her mission in life to only take 2 20 minute naps a day, down time is hard to come by. So, instead of downtime, it was chore time. I got 4 loads of laundry washed…2 put away. Not too bad considering.

The best part of my day today was getting to “hangout” with my sister in love in Australia and her two beautiful boys. Those gorgeous faces. They make smiles appear.

There were several points today when I really enjoyed watching my kids grow and learn and just be. There were several points today where I think I was ready to lose my mind too. I am so grateful that this is not a journey I am facing all by myself.

My husband is my rock. He is such an amazingly faithful man. Somehow he always finds the energy for one more thing that I need. One more leg rub for our restless son. One more conversation and laugh with our oldest before lights out. Sure, it’s not always what he would prefer to be doing, but he does it with a cheerful heart. Definitely makes him my hero. I love my man.

Thanksgiving today is all about family. Whether the day is rough and stormy or bright and cheerful or a mixture of both, I know that my family is going to make something interesting out of my day. I know that I am truly rich with all the things in life that matter. It’s love and it’s all around if we’ll just take a moment and listen.

May you find a little something to make you look at your day with Thanksgiving,

J

November 1 -Thanksgiving Day 1

Here I am starting another new adventure. Every November I’ve attempted to take some time and think about being thankful. This year I’m doing things a  little different.

First of all I’m shutting off the TV and the distraction it creates in my life. For me, sometimes TV is just a simple way to relax, but it can also be a time stealer. And this month, I don’t want things stolen from me. I do not want my time to be stolen which causes my joy to get stolen because there really is only so much time in a day.

This month I’m focusing on my list of gratitude and filling it up because I will actually be taking the time to see them. This month, I’m reading more and praying more and focusing on relationship more. I’m letting go of past hurts and embracing future joys.

This month, I’m accomplishing some projects that have been on my to-do list for much too long. I’m finding the time to enjoy the 5 minute clean-up. I thanking God for the little projects I get done that help me complete the overall goal.

This month, I’m opening up my donate box and my trash can and letting go of the things that weigh my life down. I am refocusing on the goals I have and the lifestyle I want and doing what it takes to get there.

This month, I am letting go of junk food and even comfort food that I might be grateful for the simpleness and completeness of provision. I will need to turn to God to fill my empty spaces instead of food that is only pleasure on the lips for but a moment. In this time I will taste and see that THE LORD IS GOOD. I am not limited to the simple cravings that see me through the rough days. Instead, I will be seeing the blessing throughout each day and finding a way to be thankful for what God has provided instead of irritated because of the things I do not have. I am excited that I can be grateful for what I do have.

This month, I will have my dishes done and my laundry caught up. Not because I have to, but rather because I get to. I get to remember that dirty dishes are a sign of God’s provision of food in our household and clean dishes are a sign that we are open for more of what He has to offer. I get to be thankful that my children have plenty to wear and will never be too cold or too naked to enjoy life.

This month, I get to choose to honor God through working with my children in a way that brings thankfulness for this time we have together. I get to lead my family to a place of thanksgiving for everything we have and also, for all the things we do not have.  It is a blessing to not have too much!  This is a focus for me this month.

This month, I will relish the time I spend in the word by daily copying it with my own hand.  I will use this time to clear my thoughts from previous distractions and allow myself to still and listen for the still small voice that calls to me. I will focus on the Heartbeat Of Love that is the true rhythm for my life.

This month, I will read…truly read some glorious looking books that have sat on my bedside table and are dusty with waiting for me to pick up. My mind will be opened to someone else’s story, someone’s insight into the best life and challenges to be a better parent. I will laugh and cry and go to places you can only go when you read a book.

This month, I will smile more. I will laugh more. I will celebrate more. I begin this month in a fresh place…seeking the heart of thanksgiving I know that beats within me. I will not allow myself to steal from myself this month. I am all in.

This month, I find the heart of worship. Continue reading

Where am I today?

I seriously loose control.  Like all the time.  I forget that I actually want five children because I don’t want all the stuff that comes with them.  Yay!  I forget how much I love to cook and how much it relaxes me because I don’t want to look at the mountain of dishes that stacks itself up when I do. I forget that I am a creative person because to be creative one must got through the ugly now and then…

My simple message today is that even when “it” gets lost you can find it again.  Prioritize finding it.  Like the story of the shepherd who left the 99 sheep to find the one that was lost I must lay aside everything and find the it (control, peace, joy, patience, forgiveness) again.

And God is so willing to help me find it.  That’s why David wrote in Psalm 23 – The lord is my shepherd…I shall not want. He causes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me. They rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

I can rewrite those words for my life. The Lord is my Everything…I don’t have to carry the whole load. He causes me to be still within myself even when there is chaos all around. He leads my thoughts into places where He reigns instead of me. He restores my mind, my will and especially my emotions. Yea, even though mass hysteria is breaking out and anger is bubbling over, I can be full of joy…for He is with me. His protection and guidance give me comfort. I am not alone. You are with me.

Today, I rest in Him. Praying you may as well.

Blessings, J

A brand new day

Each day is a gift. We all know that. It can sound a little cliche…or a lot. Each day doesn’t really cut it for me though. I can start my day with grand intentions and two minutes later lose it.  Bye bye gift.  Thus, I must realize that each moment is a gift.  I must become present in each moment. An unreceived gift is lost. An unopened gift holds so much unrealized potential.

Mindfulness :

the state of being aware of something important

the practice of maintaining a non-judgemental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment by moment basis

This is not some voodoo thing we are talking about here. This is a simple concept actually. It’s smelling the roses. It’s jumping in puddles. It’s catching a snowflake on your tongue. For me, it’s looking into my children’s eyes when they are talking to me. It’s making that heart connecton rather than that chore connection. It’s constantly realizing that all I have is now. This moment is my gift. As I lay here in bed typing away I pause a moment and listen. I hear my husband breathing his deep even breath as he sleeps. I feel my baby girl curled up next to me, her warmth and softness a treasure all it’s own.

With just these two simple obsrvations I am reminded that I am not alone. I have both someone to hold me and someone to hold. I can never be so lost that I will be forgotten. I know that I am needed. I am necessary. For you it is the same. We may not have the same blessings. You do have blessings.  If you choose to practice mindfulness you will be able to see them. Sometimes you will have to see the pain first. Sometimes you have to sort through the pain to see the gift.  That doesn’t mean the gift isn’t worth it. For the person willing to look past, look through, look beyond the pain they will find a gift far greater than they could ever hope for. And that gift will be more than we could begin to comprehend. Because if the only gift you can allow yourself to see is the gift of life than that is where you need to start. Your life is a gift and when mindful of the moment you will be able to see that.

God says that before He formed us in the womb He knew us. He planned for us. He is jealous for us. Whether you believe in God or not you are loved by him. He calls your name. With the loud crescendo of crashing waves He calls your name. With the vibrant dripping and dropping of raindrops your name can be heard. In the stillness of falling snow when all around you everything seems to be blanketed in silence there is still a voice calling your name.

As my children erupt and shout and shake the walls, He calls my name. When it seems all I can hear is the sound of crying so loud it seems to shatter the eardrums, He calls my name. He writes love letters to me in the eyes of my boys and when I look deeply into them I can see His words. I can see the reflection of His smile for me in the smile of my little girl. In the chaos, in the mess, in the exhaustion I am not alone. Far from it, I am held close to His heart. And in these moment of mindfulness I can truly say as David said… Be gracious to me O God, be gracious to me, for in You my soul takes refuge. In the shadow of Your wings I take refuge until destruction passes by. (Psalm 57:1)

For an introvert there is almost no better promise than the one of peace. This is His promise to me today that as I cry out to Him, He will be my peace. As I am mindful of my moments He will reveal all that I need. For in my strength I can sometimes bare knuckle scrape by. In His strength I can live, really live life to the fullest, overwhelmed with blessing and finding true rest in complete peace.

Blessings, J